Guevarra hopes PDEA has basis to include lawyers, judges, other personalities in drug list

Published March 23, 2019, 12:45 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra expressed hope that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has sufficient basis to include lawyers, prosecutors and judges in its drug watch list.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

Guevarra made this point after PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino disclosed recently that the agency’s drug watch list also included lawyers, prosecutors, judges, as well as prominent personalities including celebrities and some members of the media.

“I trust that the PDEA chief had enough factual basis for making that statement,” said Guevarra yesterday (March 23).

On the other hand, National Prosecution Service (NPS) Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon lamented that the PDEA has not reached out to his office concerning the prosecutors in the drug watch list.

“They have not gotten in touch with our office yet,” he said.

In the meantime, Fadullon said he will not issue any comment over the PDEA’s drug watch list until he gets more details about it.

“I will withhold issuing any statement until we are properly informed on the parameters used or basis for the inclusion in their watchlist,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has already issued a statement against using the drug watch list to shame those who are in it.

IBP National PresidentAbdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo stated the IBP was opposed to the public disclosures of the drugs list “that publicly shame prosecutors who dismiss drug complaints for insufficiency of evidence, and judges who acquit drug suspects on constitutional grounds.”

“Government agents are not licensed to perverse or relax constitutional standards on buy-bust and search and seizure operations, and a defeat in the legal arena on such basis must not be interpreted as drug coddling or protection,” he reminded.

On the other hand, Fajardo said the IBP encourages “our law enforcement operatives to prosecute and spare no one, not even lawyers, prosecutors or judges, who are into drug possession and use, as this continues to be an offense penalized under the Anti-Drug Act.

“The malefactors may also be held administratively liable for misconduct, and must be proceeded against before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of Justice, or the Supreme Court, as the case may be,” he added.